In the bleak mid-winter

February is a wet, and often very cold, time of the year. It is also a month when the last thing you want is problems with your plumbing. When it is minus eight outside, the very last thing you want is frozen pipes, a faulty boiler or non-functioning radiators.

Here are a few steps you can take to make sure that this February you are as comfortable as can be.

Prevent frozen pipes

  • Make sure your pipes and water storage tank are insulated.
  • Take extra care when insulating joints and bends.
  • Put insulation foam on top of pipes rather than underneath them.
  • Turn off any indoor valves on pipes leading to outside taps. Then, open the outside tap and leave it open to let any water drain out to ensure there’s no water in the pipes to freeze.


Throughout the year there are steps you can take to ensure that you do not encounter any nasty surprises in the winter months. Regular maintenance is key, make sure that you repair any dripping taps, a dripping tap might be an annoyance in the summer, but if it freezes, it will block your pipes.

When it starts to get cold, regularly check all your taps. If little or no water flows, there may be frozen water in the pipes.

Take precautions

If you are going on holiday during the winter, or if you are away on business for a few days, set your central heating to come on for a short period each day to prevent pipes from freezing. Don’t be tempted to turn the heating off while you’re away, the cost of a frozen heating or water system far outweighs the benefits of turning your heating off fully.

And if your pipes do freeze, turn the water off at the mains and thaw them out slowly with hot water bottles. Never use a heat gun or blow torch to do this.

Look out for leaks

Leaks can occur any time of the year, but a cracked pipe caused by frozen water is a common cause of leaks. The insidious dripping of water can cause all manner of damage, particularly if it is in some remote corner of the house or at the back of a cupboard and remains undetected.

The following advice may help minimise the risk of leaks and the damage that escaping water can cause.

  • Look out for leaks in the piping under your kitchen and bathroom sinks.
  • Fix an external dripping tap as soon as possible to avoid water damage through the outside wall.
  • Regularly check your washing machine and dishwasher pipes for leaks, bulging or cracking. Get new pipes fitted if you spot any problems.
  • Ask someone to check your home if you’re away for a while. This should help ensure leaking or burst pipes are spotted early and damage is kept to a minimum (tell them where the stopcock is).

If you do have a problem, use your stopcock to cut off the flow of water and minimise the damage caused. Our research shows that one in three homeowners don’t know where their stopcock is located, so make sure you know where it is.

Posted In: plumbers, plumbing